The Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) has urged the Federal Government to make the renewable energy sector a priority.
The organisation made the call at a two-day stakeholder engagement organised to deliberate on a number of challenges around the renewable energy sector and how to access more intervention funds via alternative funding channels.
The association also said that there was a need to ease the accessibility channels of funds, while also sustaining investor confidence.
A sustainable energy expert, Mr Kerry Ebi Nanakumo, while presenting a survey report titled “Exploring Sources of Funding for Off-grid rural electrification”, said that rural-urban dwellers depend on power generators for 60 per cent of their power needs.
“Sometimes paying as much as N50 per KW of electricity, the situation is worse in the rural areas, where just a little are connected to the national grid,” he said.
According to him, over 80 million Nigerians are without electricity, and it is estimated that the government will need to spend about N50 billion to cover the cost of rural electrification.
“India has one of the most subsidies and biases for rural electricity compared to other Asian countries, some other countries like Ghana and Rwanda are pushing for reforms that place them to achieve their rural electrification targets by 2024.
“Although Rwanda and Ghana do not have the kind of population that we have, the idea is trying to learn from the models that have worked for them.
“The Rural Electrification Agency down to the Rural Electrification Fund are the main drivers of rural electrification; REA has been trying in terms of service delivery and manpower development but there is nothing wrong with `rejigging’ your strategy,” he added.
The Technical Assistant, Executive Director, REF, Mrs Tobiloba Okoli, while making a presentation, said that funds were used to promote the cost-effective expansion of electricity access in un-electrified rural areas.
She said that this is usually done using renewable off-grid and on-grid electrification solutions through partial one-off capital subsidies and technical assistance to ensure access to reliable and affordable electricity.
“The target is to increase national electrification by 90 per cent both in the rural and urban areas. Right now, we have 60 in urban and 40 in rural areas. The plan at REF is to increase these by 75 per cent in 2025,” she added.
Meanwhile, stakeholders also discussed broadly on the theme, “Innovative Funding and Accessibility of Government Social Intervention Funds for the Renewable Energy sector”.
Also, some insights were shared by key playing financial stakeholders from both local and international DFIs.
Amongst them are Development Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry, Access Bank, Sterling Bank, International Finance Corporation, Blue Camel Energy, All On Hub, and more.
Mr Toju Eyetsemite, an investment professional, All On, who gave a presentation titled “Development Partners Funding: The Size and What is Needed to Make the Fruits Fall”, said that the organisation provides non-financial support for developers usually during ideation- investment directory.
“We also provide market entry support including office space for start-ups to receive access to funding to bridge the energy gap.
“There are criteria to attract funding and non-financial support. Firstly, you must have a scalable business, especially carbon emission-saving products. We are making businesses with Innovative solutions a priority, and also industry experience and an advisory board alongside a good distribution strategy.”
Also speaking, REAN President, Dr. Segun Adaju, stated that the discussion was on leveraging access to financing to deliver more renewable energy projects in bridging the access to electricity gap.
Adaju further suggested the initiation of a taskforce comprising nine to 11 members drawn from the renewable energy operators, the Bank of Industry (BoI), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN); commercial banks – Access, Sterling, and Jaiz Banks, as well as entrepreneurs who have accessed government and development funding in the past.
By Patricia Amogu